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Schwei On Ice: Devils Falling Short Of Their Goals

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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By John Schweibacher
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The goal scoring numbers are not pretty for the New Jersey Devils so far in the 2010-11 season. The Devils begin the week with just 53 goals, the fewest in the NHL and two of those are the ones credited for shootout wins.

Here is a breakdown of New Jersey’s situational goal scoring (or lack of it) among the 30 teams in the NHL as the club hits the 30-game mark this week (totals through games of 12/13):

5-on-5

33 goals-30th in NHL. Two fewer than the Islanders and 38 behind the Flyers, who lead the league with 71. New Jersey ranked 19th at the end of last season. Boston was last with 136 but did make the playoffs.

5-on-4

12 goals-tied 27th in NHL. Only Nashville (10) and Florida (8) have fewer. Devils finished 2009-10 with 47, tied for 20th overall.

5-on-3

0 goals-tied for last in NHL with three other clubs. New Jersey had just two 5-on-3 goals last season.

4-on-4

1 goal-tied for 25th in NHL, one more than Boston & Phoenix (0). Devils only 4-on-4 goal was overtime tally from Ilya Kovalchuk in Buffalo back in 4th game of season.

4-on-3

1 goal. 10 others also have one; two clubs; Calgary & Washington have scored twice with a 4-on-3 advantage. Kovalchuk also owns New Jersey’s lone 4-on-3 marker, a game-winning, overtime power-play goal vs. Edmonton.

4-on-5

1 goal. Henrik Tallinder scored a shorthanded goal back in the Devils’ 2nd game of the season but New Jersey has none since. Four other NHL clubs also have just one shorthanded goal, only Tampa Bay has none so far.

Devils goals by Period:

1st Period

17. Tied for 28th in NHL. The Blackhawks lead the league with 36 goals in the opening 20 minutes while the Islanders have an NHL-low 12.

2nd Period

18. 30th in the NHL. New Jersey has also allowed 41 2nd period goals, the most in the NHL.

3rd Period

14. 30th in the NHL. Six fewer than the Islanders and Wild, who each rank 28th. The Devils had 77 3rd period goals last season, 12th-best in the league and more than the club had in either the 1st (62) or 2nd (75) periods in 2009-10.

The Devils continue their stretch of home games against Western Conference opponents as they host the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators this week before they head south to take on the Atlanta Thrashers.

New Jersey has gone 4-6-1 so far against the West so far this season giving them as many wins as they have against the Eastern Conference; 4-13-1. The Devils lost to the Coyotes, 4-3, last January 14th in Phoenix in their only meeting last season. New Jersey split its pair of match-ups against the Predators in 2009-10; a 3-2 shootout defeat in Nashville on November 19th and a 5-2 win on February 12th at Prudential Center.

The Predators are led by Barry Trotz, who became the expansion franchise’s first head coach back in August of 1997, one year prior to their 1st NHL season. Only five other head coaches or managers in the four major pro sports have longer tenures with their current teams. Here are the 10 longest current tenures among coaches in the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball:

· Jerry Sloan, NBA Utah Jazz 12/19/88

· Jeff Fisher, NFL Tennessee Titans 11/14/94

· Tony La Russa, MLB St. Louis Cardinals 10/23/95

· Gregg Popovich, NBA San Antonio Spurs 12/10/96

· Lindy Ruff, NHL Buffalo Sabres 7/21/97

· Barry Trotz, NHL Nashville Predators 8/6/97

· Andy Reid, NFL Philadelphia Eagles 1/11/99

· Mike Scioscia, MLB LA Angels 11/17/99

· Bill Belichick, NFL New England Patriots 1/27/00

· Ron Gardenhire, MLB Minnesota Twins 1/4/02

Devils coach John MacLean, whose job would appear to be in jeopardy based on New Jersey’s horrible start, already has the 101st longest tenure out of the 122 current coaches/managers in the four sports. Exactly half (61 of 122) the jobs have changed hands at least once since January of 2009, with some teams (Devils, New Jersey Nets, Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles) making more than one switch in the last two calendar years.

The Devils face the Thrashers for the first time this season Saturday night in Atlanta. New Jersey took three of the four meetings in 2009-10 and has won six straight at Philips Arena dating back to January 30th of 2007. Back on February 4th, the Devils acquired Ilya Kovalchuk and defenseman Anssi Salmela from the Thrashers for Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and a 1st-round pick. Since that date, New Jersey has an overall won-lost record of 21-28-7 for 49 points in 56 games while Atlanta has now gone 28-22-8 for 64 points in 57 contests. Here are some of the NHL statistics for the players involved in the deal since it took place:

Player – Games –  Goals – Assists – Points – +/-

· Kovalchuk – 55 –  15 – 25 – 40 – -9

· Salmela – 9-  1 – 2 – 3 –  -5

· Bergfors – 53 – 15 – 20 – 35 – -2

· Oduya – 58 – 3 –  17 – 20 – +2

Andy Greene comes into the week with a plus/minus rating of minus-19, one point worse than Ilya Kovalchuk’s minus-18 for the worst on the Devils and the second-worst in the NHL next to the Islanders’ James Wisniewski’s minus-20. Only one Devils’ player, Grant Marshall, who was a minus-18 in 2005-06, has finished a season with a plus/minus that bad for New Jersey in the last 21 seasons. Here are the 10 worst season plus/minus ratings for the Devils in club history:

· Joe Cirella 1984-85 -45

· Joe Cirella 1983-84 -43

· Tapio Levo 1982-83 -41

· Don Lever 1982-83 -35

· Bob MacMillan 1982-83 -35

· Carol Vadnais 1982-83 -32

· Kirk Muller 1984-85 -31

· Craig Wolanin 1986-87 -31

· Gary Howatt 1982-83 -29

· Don Lever 1984-85 -29

· Dave Lewis 1984-85 -29

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Minus: Over Early. Devils allow two goals in first 1:42 in 4-1 loss to Detroit after giving up a pair just 1:38 into previous home game, a 5-1 defeat against Montreal.

Plus: Power-Play. New Jersey has gone 6-for-15 with the man advantage over its last four games.

Minus: December Defeats. Devils now 0 and 5 this month.

Plus: Jon Merrill. 18-year-old defenseman, who was New Jersey’s top pick in 2010 Draft, scores first two goals in Michigan’s 5-0 win over Michigan State in front of a record 113,411 fans at outdoor game at Michigan Stadium.

pixy Schwei On Ice: Devils Falling Short Of Their Goals